Q: I was curious as a special teams coach in the past, Terry McLaurin came here as a special teams player really, and then immediately grew into a star receiver. Has that happened to you before? Do you find that very frequently?
A: I don’t know if the timetable on the word ‘immediately’ is important in that. I think it’s the development of the players. I remember him coming out in college. I think he was kind of misidentified as being a special teams-only player. I remember watching his tape going to Ohio State. This was a guy who had explosive speed, and we thought watching him in the evaluation for the draft ourselves, at the time I was coaching receivers, that this guy had the ability to stretch the field, but especially catch the ball and run, which he’s shown a lot of production doing already. I’d say the general answer to your question in terms of the development of players, I think the kicking game is a key part in getting guys involved. We’ve had experiences with our own guys this year. Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin are two young guys that have made a lot of contributions in the kicking game for us, have quickly transitioned to start building on a defensive role, and they’re kind of getting more and more every week with it. If you want to refer back to the past with different players I’ve been around that have been able to come in as kicking game core players and develop offensive or defensive impact roles, two that come to mind, number one is Julian Edelman. Jules, when I got in the league, he was primarily a punt returner. He was a situational offensive player, he covered kicks for us, he was our backup personal protector, did a lot of things. Then in 2013, he really kind of took off and had a breakout year. He’s definitely a guy who kind of came in, he played some offense, he played some defense, contributed in all phases of the kicking game, and his career over time took off. The other guy that I’ve had experience with in my career is Rob Ninkovich. Rob actually started his career as a long snapper, going through New Orleans and then Miami, or vice versa on the two. But he ended up in New England and began as a core player in that role, quickly began to escalate with just what he showed on the field defensively. A lot of times, it’s you’re at the game anyway. What’s your worth and value to the team at the time where you can make an impact role? It’s covering kicks, it’s playing the return game. Ok, well you’re one of a limited number of people at the game, you have to have some kind of value as a backup. Once you demonstrate value offensive or defensively as a backup, you earn more reps. That kind of leads to the overall development of a player. To me, I’ve had experience with a number of players. Those two come to mind immediately, one offensively and one defensively who have had good, long, productive careers. But on top of that, I just think the kicking game in terms of not only having impact within field position and the flow of the game itself, the development of the players and working to build them up and get them acclimated to the speed of the game, the physicality of the game, and also the multiples when they happen within a game situationally is key for really the development of all the players on the roster.
Q: Jabrill Peppers played one of his better games. He was really active for you Monday night. Do you see a guy that’s really starting to know this system? Can you evaluate and tell us what you think of his play so far this year?
A: I’m really pleased with Pep. He’s a guy that comes out to work for us every day, he has a lot of high energy, a lot of urgency. He brings a lot of juice to our team. He’s a team captain because he’s a leader. The guys really respond to him. He’s that guy who you have to play as much as possible just to keep him busy. He’s just a ball of energy. But I would say just overall on that assessment defensively, Jabrill is definitely gaining a greater understanding of not just the defense as a whole, but the individual roles. He’s a guy that we have a lot of flexibility to move around game by game and situationally to put him in different positions by defensive package, to either match up or to kind of fill a role that may be vacated at this point of the year by some of the injuries we’ve dealt with. He has a lot of versatility, he’s an intelligent player, he’s definitely a football guy all the way. His role is growing in the right direction for us. We love having him on the team.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Golden (Tate) yet about the last couple of days and everything that has gone on with that?
A: Yeah, I spoke to Golden at length today. We’re dealing internally with a lot of things. We have a walkthrough today. He’s not going to be at the walkthrough today, but he will be back in the building and practicing with us the remainder of the week. It will be business as usual. We’re going to deal with this internally, and that’s all I’m really going to say about that.
Q: Is that discipline or his choice? Why is he not there?
A: He’s not going to be with us today but he’s going to be back tomorrow. Again, it’s a walkthrough today. We’ll be on the grass tomorrow practicing. I’m just going to leave it at that.
Q: You mentioned the official (Field Judge) Nate (Nathan Jones) who threw that flag the other night. You mentioned him by name…
A: I did. I misspoke on that. It was actually (Side Judge) Eugene (Hall). I just misspoke on the name right there. So yeah, I was incorrect on that.
Q: Oh ok. I was actually going to ask if you enjoy, there are only a handful of NFL officials who played in this league. I was going to ask if the interactions with them is any different? Nate is one of those guys. Do you as a coach find that the officials who played in this league handle calls differently?
A: I don’t know if they call the game any differently. I wouldn’t say that. Look, there are a lot of really, really good officials in this league, and there are a lot of guys who are a lot of fun to work with. They truly are. I’ve had the opportunity to really have a lot of crossover with these guys at different positions and talk throughout the game. It’s actually really interesting. As you talk to these guys before games, throughout the games, the perspective that each of us have, and there’s a lot of education on both sides, I’m always trying to learn, ‘how are you looking to call the game? How are you officiating this game’? So we know how to properly coach our players. That’s really all we’re ever looking for. We turn in plays. We don’t really do that a whole lot, but I never want to turn a play in to complain. I always want to turn a play in to say ‘tell me exactly how you’re officiating this. How are you calling this situation so we can better coach our players?’ That’s all we’re looking for right there. But the interaction with the officials has been good. Look, these are good guys. They do a lot of have work for us. They do a tough job. But I’ve always had positive interactions with these guys throughout the games. You learn a lot of football from them, and we kind of talk back and forth and share ideas.
Q: How’s Devonta Freeman doing and is there anyone else that came out of the game the other day with any injuries?
A: There’s definitely some nicks and bumps. We expect everyone to be out there with us. Devonta will spend a little bit of time leading up to the walkthrough kind of moving around with the trainers and doing some actual physical activity. Other than that, it’s just a true walkthrough out there. There really shouldn’t be anybody who’s limited in whatever we are going to ask them to do today. We will see Devonta with the trainers a little bit more moving around. Made a lot of progress. I’ll check and see after this like I do every day with Ronnie (Barnes), and see where he’s at today. The ability to get him on the grass and move him around kind of gives us a better window into where he may be going into Sunday.
Q: With Golden, was that something that you noticed during the game? There was a lot of raising his hands jumping up and down. What do you generally think about that, when a player does that during the game?
A: Specifically, I didn’t notice a lot of that during the game time. I was locked into a lot of things. A lot of things happen during the game that come out afterwards for all players at all positions. Nothing specific this game that I noticed throughout the game.
Q: Just wanted to know if Oshane (Ximines) is any closer to getting back on the practice field for you guys? In terms of his injury and where he’s at.
A: He’s making a lot of progress. We’re hoping to see him sooner than later. It won’t be this week for him right now. He’s making a lot of gains. I think the biggest balance with those guys is balancing with the trainers at what point can we put him out there and know he can properly defend himself and execute aggressively. He’s been working with the trainers very hard. He’s been getting some work in the weight room done and those have been positives. We’ve got Washington and Philly and a bye week coming up. Somewhere in that window hopefully we get him back.
Q: I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to talk to Will Hernandez at all. Can you offer and update as to where he is right now in terms of the progress, recovery, how’s he feeling? Do you guys anticipate having him back any time soon?
A: From the information I’ve been given from Ronnie, I know he’s still on the COVID list. I haven’t talked to Will in the last couple days. One thing about Will is he’s a tough dude. He can have his arm hanging off by a limb and he would tell you he feels good and he’s ready to roll. We’re going to rely on the testing and the symptoms moving forward. I don’t have any daily update today on Will and where he’s at. Obviously, Ronnie is checking on his health on a daily basis. We have a close monitor on that. We have to keep him separate from the rest of our team to make sure we avoid any kind of spread.
Q: I’m not going to fool you with a broad question on a specific situation. In general, what is your philosophy when a player goes outside your ‘team first’ philosophy for the Giants. How do you handle that, how do you approach that?
A: I can kind of tie it in real simple and kind of answer a couple things. I know a lot of guys are probably looking at me wondering if I’m dancing around a lot of issues. First off, it has to be team first for everyone in this building. Every coach and every player has to be team first. There’s no exceptions for that. I’m not going to tolerate and put up with any kind of selfish behavior from anybody, coach or player, it’s not going to happen. Number two, there’s no secret, I’m very general on a lot of things I talk about. I’m not very forthcoming with a lot of injuries because I don’t like the expectations that puts on players. Not because I’m trying to always hide things from the bookmakers in Vegas. I don’t want someone going ahead and putting something on a player that they want to be the stay-at-home doctor and tell us that someone’s hamstring should only be four to six-week injury. When it goes seven weeks – they must not be tough or working hard enough. When it comes to discipline, I don’t believe in holding trial on any one of my players or coaches for that matter, in the public eye. While that may be inconvenient a lot of times. Sure, fans who want to stay connected and I understand it’s a tough job you guys all have in terms of there is information people want and want to be connected. I choose to deal with things internally because as a head coach it’s my job to protect the team. It’s my job to make sure we can handle things internally. That we have a family structure in this building. That everyone understands there are consequences for our actions. At the same time, I’ve got to be the one that can take bullets for the team and I’m fine with that. I’ve got to make sure I do the right things by all the players and the coaches. They can come to work, they can work aggressively. When we make a mistake, we can correct it and understand we don’t always have to be the subject of public criticism. We bring that on ourselves enough already, that’s just the nature of the business. We’re an entertainment business, we understand that. The fans deserve a good product on the field. We want to always do something to give them what they deserve to see. It’s very important to us that people in New York and New Jersey see something that represents them. On that note, I’m going to be very direct any time things like this come up. That I’m going to deal with things internally. You guys have dealt with me already on that. That’s not by accident, I’m just being very forthcoming with you. I just don’t want everyone having to go through the trial pf public opinion right now. We’re all different, that’s just my philosophy.
Q: You’re confident based on your past experiences that will allow the team to move past this?
A: Every situation is obviously different. There’s things you deal with internally that obviously the team reacts to differently. There’s a lot of situations that come up but I’d rather us deal with it internally and be able to move forward as a team than have everyone else weigh in on a situation that they may not have all the details to the exact circumstance of what exactly happened. That’s not an indictment on anyone trying to write a story. I know everyone on here has a very tough job to do. You guys are demanded to come up with something different on a daily basis with limited information. I know I’m not always the most generous when it comes to giving details of things that help you with that. I appreciate the hard work you do. I don’t try to be deceptive, but I am very direct in letting everyone know that I’m not going to put my players on blast publicly. I will criticize them very openly and bluntly in squad meetings. I’m going to hold everybody accountable, that starts with myself. I’m the first one to tell everybody when I screw up because I demand every player to look in the mirror and have the same criticism of themselves. We’re never going to look at each other and say that wasn’t your fault, sometimes it is your fault and sometimes it’s my fault. We’re going to very open and honest with each other. We’ve got to correct what happens and move forward without it becoming a distraction that pulls us back throughout the year. With external factors affecting our guys internally. That’s why I do what I do, that’s my philosophy. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that’s just what I believe in.